Villanueva: Use vaccines now on essential workers before it expires
Senator Joel Villanueva urged the government to start injecting vaccines into essential workers now instead of ending up throwing away vaccines that had expired, saying while health workers were on top of the priority list, other frontline workers deserved and needed to be vaccinated as soon as possible, too.
“Vaccination should be time-on-target because vaccines have expiry dates” said Villanueva, who chairs the Senate labor committee. “Instead of throwing away, use it now,” he said in an interview with CNN Philippines on Wednesday.
He said while frontline health workers “must always be first in line,” priority should also be given those who provide essential services and expose themselves to risks of infection in doing so.
He said vaccine inventory that is at risk of expiring should already be used. Government data showed that not more than 10,000 health workers have been injected with vaccines so far. But government inventory of vaccines has reached at least 1,400,000 doses of CoronaVac and AstraZeneca.
He said after health workers, next in line should be other essential workers “in case there is inventory in danger of being spoiled.”
“A good operation is one which has a contingency. Even in airplanes, there is a wait list isn’t it?” he said.
“If there’s no transportation, who would bring our nurses to the hospital, or cashier to the grocery, or the pharmacist to drug stores? Who will deliver food or groceries if there are no riders?”
Villanueva said he also sees the need to give priority to vaccinating public transport drivers and workers who deliver essential goods.
“They meet and exceed the definition of essential workers who, by the nature of their work, are exposed to risk,” he said.
“They are in close contact with hundreds of passengers and customers a day,” Villanueva said.
“If there’s no transportation, who would bring our nurses to the hospital, or cashier to the grocery, or the pharmacist to drug stores?” he said. “Who will deliver food or groceries if there are no riders?”, he added.
“That’s why I repeat, if there’s a clear list of priorities, there wouldn’t be any jumping the line,” Villanueva said.
Giving vaccines to other essential workers was also urgent, he said. “These are the people who keep the lifelines of society open at great risk to themselves,” Villanueva said.